Currently, Florida law requires retailers to operate a separate store if they want to sell spirits. At Costco and Publix, for instance, there are liquor stores adjacent to the markets with a separate entrance. Beer and wine, meanwhile, is sold inside the market.
Bills now in the Florida House and Senate (HB 877, SB 804) may undo that requirement.
“It’s common sense,” said Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness. “There’s just no reason to have a dividing wall. It’s an outdated regulation.” There are still plenty of safeguards against minors getting alcohol without placing a “wall of concrete” in front of responsible adults who can legally buy it, he added.
Ellen Snelling, chairwoman of the Tampa Alcohol Coalition and the Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance, said “the liquor stores are smaller, more insulated locations than grocery stores,” so “the best way to restrict access to underage customers,” which is of “primary concern.”
Wal-Mart spokesman Bill Wertz said Florida customers have complained about the requirement of buying spirits in a separate location. Wal-Mart’s “goal is to provide customers with the products they want and need at affordable prices, including alcoholic beverages.”